Friday, April 24, 2009

Life Moments

Today, Matthew's sisters will graduate from college. They have worked hard, contributed to student and community life and had fun while doing it.

We honestly could not be more proud.

Distance has become a regular part of our lives; an element of this lifestyle that we accept as reality and simultaneously fight (armed with Facebook, cell phones, Skype, e-mail and even regular with paper and stamps). Though we will see pictures and hear the grand retelling, they cannot replace an excited hug in the moment, a smile caught across a full auditorium or a hand reddened by vigorous clapping.

When God asked us to embrace a missional life, we know He factored all of this into His plans and though there are still wishful moments, it is good to know this has not been overlooked.

So if you happen to be at Summit Pacific's graduation ceremony in Abbotsford, BC and you see two radiant graduates - give them a hug for us!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slovenija - Slovinsko - Slovenia...however you say it, that's where we went

Life is a comedy...or at least one has to choose to see the humor in it. As we've mentioned, there was to be a training conference in Slovenia that we were going to help with. This presented a great opportunity to see some friends in Ljubljana we made last August while speaking at the Slovene young adults camp (birthplace of the now infamous "ička" event). So we made our way down last Wednesday, two days ahead of the conferences Friday start date.

We had an awesome time with our friends and it was energizing to be around an eclectic, vibrant group of young adults and young marrieds (don't they look awesome). We even got to sleep at a friends apartment which has "two rooms and no doors" (a bonding experience for sure).

On Thursday we got a phone call saying there had been a miscommunication and that the conference is actually taking place this coming weekend (which helped us understand a lot of the puzzled looks we had received when we told people why we were down). Catalyst is also this coming weekend and Sheldon and Mark, our Catalyst teachers-in-arms, are teaching in Slovenia and so we will be running Catalyst solo. We're prepared and have been praying for the students as we tackle a heavy-hitter of a subject: character!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Traditions

One of the most enjoyable aspects of living in another culture is the exploration of new traditions. Slovak culture, being steeped in Catholic traditions, focuses strongly on the 4-day holiday that surrounds Easter (Velká noc). On Easter Friday (Veľkonočný piatok) people do not eat meat to symbollically connect with the suffering of Jesus on the cross. On Saturday mass is held at 9:00pm to mark the resurrection of Jesus; not on Sunday as is common in North America (we suspect that time zones may be a factor...). Most people leave the city and make their way to "the nature" for time with friends and family; thus Nitra has been empty of people but filled with church bells.

The real fun comes on Veľkonočný pondelok (Easter Monday) when traditionally women stay at home and men don their best attire and go door to door armed with a korbáč (a whip woven from several tree branches and tied with brightly coloured ribbon), water and perfume. The men chase after the women and hit them on the legs with the korbáč and splash water and perfume on them to cleanse them and make them pure. The man should then give the bottle of perfume as a present to the woman. In return the woman gives her Easter assailant a decorated egg or some chocolates.

Matthew, in an attempt to be culturally sensitive, embraced this new tradition...